I like my EarPods. Yeah, not the new fancy wireless ones. Just the standard wired earbuds that have come with iPhones for a long time. At one point I realized I prefer to use my EarPods during meetings. I was actually using my iPad instead of my computer to join meetings simply because I could use the EarPods.

Why, you ask? I just like my EarPods. I couldn’t figure out how to use them properly with my computer, so I just stuck with my iPad. They have a 3.5 mm audio plug that should plug into my computer, but I couldn’t get the microphone to work properly no matter what I tried.

I tried the special headphone “Y” adapters that break out separate 3.5 mm plugs for the headphone and microphone jacks. As usual, the headphone portion worked great, but the microphone wouldn’t work. Most of the listings on Amazon for these adapters make it very clear that they don’t work with Apple earbuds, so this isn’t a surprise. I even tried CTIA to OMTP adapters. Nothing would work. Also not a surprise: the buttons wouldn’t work either. In fact, when I pressed one of the buttons, it would record a screeching noise through the mic input.

I tried Googling but I couldn’t find anybody with a real solution. The answers mostly just amounted to “get a different headset.” I recently tried searching again, and I have finally found a solution. Here goes. I’m splitting it into two sections: one for 3.5 mm EarPods, one for Lightning EarPods.

EarPods with 3.5 mm audio plug

These are the EarPods included with all the iPhones prior to the 7, when Apple ditched the headphone jack. The solution to using these with a computer is quite easy. You simply need an Apple USB-C to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter, which costs $9. If your computer doesn’t have a USB-C port, you can buy an adapter that converts from USB-C to USB-A. Here’s an example on Amazon. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t even need to support USB 3.0 speeds. It just needs to convert USB-C female to USB-A male.

Plug the EarPods into the USB-C to 3.5 mm adapter, and then plug the adapter into your computer (either directly, if you have a USB-C port, or through the C-to-A adapter, if you only have USB-A ports).

It will appear in your operating system as a USB speaker/microphone device. You should be able to go into your sound settings and select it as both an input and output device. You will also notice that the buttons will work. That’s because it also enumerates as a USB HID device.

Lightning EarPods

If you have the newer Lightning EarPods that don’t have a 3.5 mm plug, it’s also possible to use them with your computer. There is a USB-C to Lightning Audio Adapter made by Anker. It’s pretty expensive for what it does, but it does the trick. There is also a USB-A version of the same adapter. Note that these adapters don’t work with Lightning to 3.5 mm adapters. They only work with actual Lightning EarPods (and other native Lightning audio devices). But that’s okay, because the solution I provided above for 3.5 mm EarPods is much cheaper.

Just like the 3.5 mm adapter listed above, it will also appear in your operating system as a USB speaker/microphone, and a USB HID device for the buttons.

Conclusion

I don’t know why this solution isn’t advertised more prominently around the internet. It’s super easy to use your EarPods with your computer, even with support for the mic and buttons. You just need the correct adapter. I hope this blog post helped someone out there find the adapter they were looking for!

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6 comments

  1. As disappointing as is to hear this, thank you for publishing it. I’ve been fighting for the better part of a day trying to get these headphones to work under linux (they work fine on Windows for whatever reason) and I guess I’m just going to have to give apple $10.

  2. Hey Geoff, glad it helped you. If you’re not on Mac hardware, I’m honestly surprised it even works on Windows to be honest!

  3. I came to the same conclusion about using a usb-a -> usb-c & usb-c -> 3.5mm adapter… THANK YOU for confirming my suspicions that this would be the way to go!

  4. Was stoked on the mic quality and ease of use that the Earpods have, and thought of using them with my Windows 10 laptop. Got a pair, plugged them in but the mic was not able to be detected. Searched half the day online for a solution but no dice until I found your article. Honestly never thought of the USB-C idea. Went back to the Apple store and forked over my $10, plugged them into my laptop’s USB-C port, and voila. So happy right now. Thank you very much for writing this solution, I was going to be really disappointed if none existed.

  5. How to make Lightning EarPods work for Linux? It does work for Windows with USB-C adapter but does not work under Linux. It just makes a clicking sound every second and I am not seeing it in Pulse Audio Volume Control.

  6. Hi Mika,

    They work fine for me with Anker’s USB-C to Lightning Audio adapter on Ubuntu 20.04. As far as I can tell, it uses the snd-usb-audio kernel module on Linux. I tested on kernel 5.8 and everything worked fine including the volume buttons.

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